Email newsletters can be a very effective way to build better relationships with your customers, as well as generate website traffic and additional revenues for your small business. Some may think email newsletters are overused. We agree! Others argue that nobody has time to read all your newsletters. That’s probably true too! But, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be sending them. While your customers may not have time to read all of your newsletters, it doesn’t mean they aren’t reading some of them! Most people keep subscriptions to email newsletters, even if they don’t have time to always read them, because they are interested in the content and do want to the newsletter from time to time.
So what’s so great about an email newsletter? Well, first and foremost they help keep your brand out there in front of your audience. As today’s highly competitive small business landscape, you definitely want to keep your business top of mind as much as possible. Readers of your newsletter may or may not be ready to buy from you immediately, but if they see your newsletter regularly, there’s a good chance they’ll remember you when they are ready to buy.
Email newsletters are easy and affordable to create with today’s technology. Two popular and affordable services you can use are Constant Contact and MailChimp. They offer easy to use templates and free trials (or completely free services under certain condition). What you don’t want to do is send a newsletter from your own email account, without using a service. Your email account can get blacklisted for sending too many emails out at once. Email newsletter services are pros at making sure your emails are whitelisted and reach the intended recipients.
Okay, so you’re ready to put an email newsletter together. Here are our top 5 tips to help you craft an effective email newsletter for your small business:
1. Provide engaging content. The content of your newsletter will vary, depending on your audience and industry. However, it should always speak to their pain points, hot buttons, needs and interests. Newsletters with content that is all about you and your business will likely go unread, and probably unsubscribed. A good rule of thumb is to keep the content in your newsletter 95% informational, and 5 % sales. People want to hear and learn about your business, but they don’t want to be “sold to”. Using your newsletter to provide special promotional items or offers can help boost open rates and generate sales, if the readers know to expect a special promotion at certain times.
2. Stick to a schedule. How often you send your newsletter will vary depending on how much time you have, what industry you are in, and who your audience is. However, a good rule of thumb for most small businesses is to send once a month minimum, and once a week maximum.
3. Use Creative Subject Lines. Punchy language can turn a subject line from ho-hum to eye catching. With the plethora of emails that people get these days, your subject line needs to catch the recipient’s eye and pique their interest. And while we don’t recommend always using sale pricing in the subject line to entice readers, it does work. Consider Jet Blue who boasts $39 flights in their newsletter subject lines. Customers love a great deal, especially in today’s economy!
4. Make it easy on the eyes. A visually appealing newsletter is more likely to get read, and so is a shorter newsletter. Usability studies show most people won’t look beyond the first screen of information if there’s not something immediately interesting to them, so one tip is to add a hyperlinked table of contents at the top of your newsletter. Readers will see immediately what is in the newsletter and can quickly scroll to the article of their choice.
5. Choose your send time wisely. When to send an email newsletter is a tricky question, and one that is highly debated. Many experts now say that Sunday evening is a good time, because with the proliferation of smart phones, people are getting a jump start checking their email before the work week actually gets started. Another good time is said to be 6am to 7am on a weekday. Most people arrive at the office and check their email first thing, so if your newsletter is there when they arrive, it is likely to be at the top of the email inbox, and more likely to get read.
You may have to experiment with a send time, to see when you get the best open rate. Take a moment to think like your audience, and do some basic demographic analysis, try it and see what happens!
If you are just getting started with an email newsletter, consider signing up for your competitor’s newsletters, others in your industry, or maybe some around your hobby or interests. Look for good ideas around formatting, tone, and type of content.
Good luck and let us know if you have additional tips that have worked well for your email newsletter!